The American Heart Association (AHA) has been at the forefront of providing evidence-based information and best-practices approaches to improve the cardiovascular health of the U.S. population.
To address this objective, the AHA originally developed (in 2010) a prescription for health called Life’s Simple 7 — the seven most important predictors of heart health and also a pathway for achieving ideal cardiovascular health.
Recreation tips:Reap benefits of national Park and Recreation Month| Mahoney
Nutrition and kids :How to raise competent eaters: Teach kids to cook and take a step back
Restaurant:‘Clean Eatz’ opens at Railroad Square with promises of healthy food options
The Simple 7 includes four modifiable behaviors (not smoking, healthy weight, eating healthy and being physically active) and three biometric measures (blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar).
Life’s Simple 7
A summary of these original seven steps from the AHA website follows:
Stop smoking: Cigarette smokers have a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease. If you smoke, quitting is the best thing you can do for your health.
Eat better: A healthy diet is one of your best weapons for fighting cardiovascular disease. When you eat a heart-healthy diet, you improve your chances for feeling good and staying healthy — for life!
Get active: Living an active life is one of the most rewarding gifts you can give yourself and those you love. Simply put, daily physical activity increases your length and quality of life.
Lose weight: When you shed extra fat and unnecessary pounds, you reduce the burden on your heart, lungs, blood vessels and skeleton. You give yourself the gift of active living, you lower your blood pressure and you help yourself feel better, too.
Manage blood pressure: High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. When your blood pressure stays within healthy ranges, you reduce the strain on your heart, arteries, and kidneys which keeps you healthier longer.
Control cholesterol: High cholesterol contributes to plaque, which can clog arteries and lead to heart disease and stroke. When you control your cholesterol, you are giving your arteries their best chance to remain clear of blockages.
Reduce blood sugar: Most of the food we eat is turned into glucose (or blood sugar) that our bodies use for energy. Over time, high levels of blood sugar can damage your heart, kidneys, eyes and nerves.
Enhanced Life’s Essential 8
Announced on June 29, Life’s Essential 8, which also includes updates to the sections pertaining to diet, lipids and more, debuted in a new Presidential Advisory. A link to the advisory can be accessed at the end of the column.
The enhanced Life’s Essential 8 measurement tool — formerly known as Life’s Simple 7— was revamped to allow improved means for measuring and monitoring CV health to achieve greater health equity, and now includes the entire life course.
Metrics include health behaviors like diet, physical activity, nicotine exposure and sleep, and health factors like body weight, lipids, blood glucose and BP. A person’s overall CV health score, which can range from 0 to 100, is the unweighted average of the eight component metric scores.
Life’s Essential 8 are the key measures for improving and maintaining cardiovascular health, as defined by the American Heart Association. Better cardiovascular health helps lower the risk for heart disease, stroke and other major health problems.
What’s new in 2022?
- Adds sleep as a component of heart health.
- Creates a new guide to assess diet.
- Accounts for vaping and secondhand smoke.
- Adjusts cholesterol and blood sugar measures.
- Scores each component to average an overall heart health score on a scale from 0-100.
See the links at the end of the column to access the My Life Check online tool as well as additional background information on the development of the updated Life’s Essential 8.
A final note
Modifiable risk factors and a better understanding of how we can decrease the number of cardiovascular related deaths (as well as the costs for those living with heart disease) is a challenge but something that can be achieved through knowledge and proactive actions by individuals, groups and government working together.
The two facts from the CDC that follow should be a wakeup call to all. According to the latest statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
- Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men, women and people of most racial and ethnic groups in the U.S.
- About 697,000 people in the United States died from heart disease in 2020 — that’s one in every five deaths
Resources and information
The AHA’s Presidential Advisory was issued on June 29 and is available at: https://newsroom.heart.org/news/american-heart-association-adds-sleep-to-cardiovascular-health-checklist.
An updated American Heart Association checklist that now includes sleep health metrics showed about 80% of U.S. adults have low to moderate CV health, with lowest scores occurring in the areas of diet, physical activity and BMI. Additional information is available at: https://www.healio.com/news/cardiology/20220629/aha-updated-lifes-essential-8-scoring-shows-most-americans-have-suboptimal-cv-health.
Based on Life’s Essential 8, use My Life Check, an online tool to assess your own heart health and better understand your risk for heart disease and stroke. Organizations and individuals can utilize this tool: https://mlc.heart.org/.
Mark Mahoney served as a Peace Corps Volunteer for over four years in Latin America, has been a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist (R.D.N.) for over 35 years and completed graduate studies in Public Health at Columbia University. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
#Follow #steps #good #heart #health